Projecting the 2022 Lineup
Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY SportsC: Mitch Garver
Garver was given quite the opportunity last season after Jason Castro was injured. He took full advantage as he now seems to fit into the Twins plans moving forward. He combined to hit .268/.335/.414 with 28 extra-base hits in 102 games. His game calling skills continue to improve, even if there were some rough moments on the defensive side of the ball last season. Garver is under team control through the 2023 season so it makes sense for the Twins to continue to rely on him behind the plate.
1B: Tyler Austin
Austin is a new addition to the Twins organization since last year and he moves to first base with the exit of Miguel Sano. Sano will be a free agent leading into the 2022 season and I think he is destined for a different organization at that point, especially after this year’s issues on and off the field. A lot can happen in the years ahead, but I’ve always felt Sano wants to play in a bigger market. Mauer’s retirement means there is a hole to fill at first base and Austin is under team control through the 2023 season. In less than 70 games last season, he clubbed 17 home runs, so a full season of Austin could be fun.
2B: Wander Javier
Javier missed all last season after having shoulder surgery. Even with the injury, he is still considered a top-10 prospect in the Twins organization. Back in 2015, he signed for a franchise record $4 million. He was limited in his pro debut with a hamstring injury and now he missed all last season. That being said, the kid can hit, and he was able to use the last year to add strength through his rehab process. Pitchers in the Midwest League better watch out because he is going to have a lot to prove in 2019.
3B: Jose Miranda
Out of every spot in this line-up, this was the toughest one to fill. In this scenario, Sano has left in free agency and there might not be much of a chance for him to stick at third base long-term. Miranda had a very strong season in the minors and he was named a Twins Daily Minor League All-Star. It seems like this is a position the club might need to fill through free agency or through shifting a middle infielder to a corner spot. For now, Miranda is trending in the right direction, so he would be the team’s best option.
SS: Royce Lewis
Minnesota has a lot riding on the future of Mr. Lewis. Twins fans have seen a revolving door of players trounced out to shortstop since Christian Guzman left. Since 2004, Pedro Florimon was the only shortstop to make back-to-back Opening Day starts. In the Twins Prospect Handbook, I wrote an article comparing Royce Lewis and Joe Mauer at similar points in their careers. Mauer just finished a tremendous 15-year career and fans can hope that Lewis will follow in his footsteps. Lewis will be facing a lot of pressure in the years to come but there has been nothing but positive signs since he joined the Twins organization.
LF: Alex Kirilloff
Kirilloff is coming off a monster season and in some other organizations, he would be considered the club’s top prospect. Missing a year due to injury allowed Kirilloff and Lewis to play together this season and win a championship in the FSL. Winning can be contagious and this dynamic duo can hopefully push each other all the way to Target Field. It seems possible for Kirilloff to make his big-league debut in 2019. Could be making his first All-Star appearance by 2022?
CF: Byron Buxton
Lewis and Kirilloff might be the wave of the future but Byron Buxton needs to be the wave of the present. The 2018 campaign was one to forget about for Buxton and he needs to return to some of what fans saw in 2017. If the Twins don’t sign Buxton to an extension, the 2022 season would be his last year before reaching free agency. Three seasons from now, Buxton should have multiple Gold Gloves to his credit and he could be the veteran leader on a club fighting for the playoffs.
RF: Trevor Larnach
The Twins took Larnach in the first round this past season and his college experience could help him to move quickly through the system. The College World Series hero helped Oregon State claim the title before beginning his pro career. His power continues to develop as he went from three homers in ’17 to 17 in the 2018 college season. He might not rank as high as some of the other prospects on this list but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a strong contributor on a playoff caliber team.
DH: Brent Rooker
Rooker could split time at first base with Austin but his power is something that can’t be ignored. Rooker continues to split time between first base and left field in the minors. With Mauer’s retirement, I think he should continue to strengthen his defense at first, especially since he has the best power in the Twins system. The front office has been focused on adding power during the current off-season so this could allow Rooker to debut at some point during the 2019 season.
What do you think the 2022 line-up will look like in Minnesota? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
- mikelink45 and caninatl04 like this